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Pharm Res. 2019 Dec 17;37(1):8. doi: 10.1007/s11095-019-2742-0.

Tissue Chips in Space: Modeling Human Diseases in Microgravity.

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National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Democracy Boulevard, 9th Floor NCATS Suite, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, USA.
ISS National Laboratory, 6905 N. Wickham Road, Suite 500, Melbourne, Florida, 32940, USA.


Microphysiological systems (MPS), also known as "organs-on-chips" or "tissue chips," leverage recent advances in cell biology, tissue engineering, and microfabrication to create in vitro models of human organs and tissues. These systems offer promising solutions for modeling human physiology and disease in vitro and have multiple applications in areas where traditional cell culture and animal models fall short. Recently, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory have coordinated efforts to facilitate the launch and use of these MPS platforms onboard the ISS. Here, we provide an introduction to the NIH Tissue Chips in Space initiative and an overview of the coordinated efforts between NIH and the ISS National Laboratory. We also highlight the current progress in addressing the scientific and technical challenges encountered in the development of these ambitious projects. Finally, we describe the potential impact of the Tissue Chips in Space program for the MPS field as well as the wider biomedical and health research communities.


Disease modeling; International Space Station; Microgravity; Microphysiological systems; Organs on chips; Tissue chips

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